Federal grant to help St. Paul police to hire more officers

A man with a beard speaks into a microphone.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell speaks during a press conference in St. Paul in December 2020. Axtell announced Thursday that the department is receiving a grant from the Justice Department that will allow the city to hire more officers next year.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

The city of St. Paul plans to bring on dozens of additional police officers next year with new money from the U.S. Department of Justice.

St. Paul has won a $3.7 million federal grant that will allow the city to hire more officers next year.

The Department of Justice funding comes as the city has been stridently debating police services. Some City Council members have advocated cutting the force, while Police Chief Todd Axtell has urged the council to fund even more than Mayor Melvin Carter had in his budget.

Axtell said the new funding would allow the department to be fully staffed and be more responsive to the community.

Building relationships with our community, answering 911 calls and allowing our department to re-establish the investigative functions that have been suffering over the last few years,” Axtell said. “[The funding] in addition to the the $1.8 million match that's required for the grant allows us to bring an additional 30 officers to the St. Paul Police Department and allows us to fill the gaps that we've always had in our department from our authorized strength to the actual officers.”

Axtell says his department has fewer than 600 officers on the force now, well below the 620 authorized strength. It will take months for the new officers to get on board, but Axtell says it will eventually help fill investigative jobs and help the department work on outreach and crime prevention.

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